Vegan April Day 1 – roast potatoes with ‘cheese’

Five am this morning I was in Tesco doing my shop  – don’t mock me, it’s the best time to go – and I discovered several things – 1. veganism is really expensive – soy milk is literally FOUR TIMES the price of cows milk for instance 2. reading the label on every single item gets really tiring 3. baked beans, peanut butter, marmite and my favourite bread are all vegan – thank FUCK because I might have had a serious nervous breakdown otherwise.

Anyway, breakfast was a soda farl straight off the gridle at the street market where I live – no eggs, no butter – sunflower oil instead – I think I love these guys. Best bit was that I got to actually watch them mix and cook it. So I ate that, still hot, on my way to Tesco for the Big Shop.

Lunch was a rather subdued affair, baked baby potatoes with vegan cheese and spring onions. I’ve included the recipe, but honestly I don’t know if its worth it.

INGREDIENTS

  • Baby potatoes
  • Spring onions
  • Sunflower oil cooking spray
  • Vegan ‘cheese’

METHOD

Wash potatoes. Spray with sunflower oil. Bake for 20-30 minutes (I have a halogen oven – which I totally recommend to anyone- they are bloody awesome) turning over half way through and respraying if necessary.

Finely slice 1 spring onion,. Grate the bastard ‘cheese’. When potatoes are cooked assemble.

In all honesty the vegan ‘cheese’ is not as bad as I thought it might be. Don’t get me wrong, it doesn’t taste anything like cheese – a vegan friend says it tastes how she imagines ass tastes like. I shall plead the fifth on that one. But once you get past the colour (a weird beige brown colour) and the price (twice the price of real cheese) it’s not as unpleasant as I expected.

So, so far so simple. I made a vegan lasanga earlier too, but the less we say about that the better – even the dog wouldn’t eat it and she licks her own bum so what does that tell you?

So far day one – not a success. Very expensive and not cooking fun.

Thank fuck vodka is vegan.

Claire

 

 

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My heart has joined the thousand

Richard Adams died today.

I appreciate that most of you might ask ‘who?’ and those of you know do know who he is will forever associate him with a book about rabbits.

Watership Down is my favourite book. Has been from almost as soon as I was old enough to read. I have over half a dozen copies of that book, and a beautiful copy of ‘Tales from Watership Down’ that was a gift from an ex and which I cherish.

Why do I love that book so much? Well, it’s in the simplicity of the tale telling. There are no complicated overly wordy messages. It’s simple, straight forward, and it makes you want to be a better person.

Complex social politics, survival and a dystopian novel that came before we even knew what dystopia was, Watership Down made us THINK. It made us consider our choices, between what is right and what is easy. It made us realise that the path before us isn’t the one we have to chose, and that we can all do great things, even if no one else notices.

It wasn’t just ‘a book about rabbits’.

It was a book that changed my life. A book that still makes me want to be a better, stronger person. A book about love, friendship and standing up for what is right, no matter the cost.

When they catch you, they will kill you….

….

but first they must catch you

 

C

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When is Cultural Appropriation not Appropriation

Alright. I already know I’m gonna get slammed for this one, but hear me out.

It seems like every fucking day there is a news article or opinion piece or a celebrity blogging or tweeting about ‘cultural appropriation.’

For those who don’t know what that is, it’s very simply ‘the adoption or use of elements of one culture by members of another culture.’

So what does that mean? Well, basically it means an individual taking and using important cultural elements and references from a culture that is not there own and using them in day to day life.

Ya know, like all those American’s who ‘suddenly’ realise they are Irish in March…..

Okay, so that was snarky, but I think it’s a good example of how this can taken personally. As a proud Irish woman who has a culture that is very important to her I do understand that level of possession that comes with being proud of who you are and where you come from – aside HINT US cooking shows – it’s not ‘Irish Soda’ that you are so proudly whipping up for your viewers. It’s wheaten bread – I’m yet to see a single American chef make soda bread. And that’s okay. Because if you ask I will show you how to if you ask.

Recently I had a few days off with an actress friend – we were watching plays, eating food and shopping and generally wandering around.

A large part of it we spent in Camden – which is one of the most amazing places on earth – we had croissants and coxinha for breakfast, and then katsu for lunch while we shopped for Indian scarves and Moroccan lamps and Spanish lights before a Chinese dinner as we watched Irish street performers.

My point is….where does it stop?

I’m proud of my culture and my heritage and I, like every single other Irish person I have every known, will welcome you to come celebrate with us. You spent your whole life living at the top of a mountain in Nepal where your only company was your Granny and three goats? Fuck it! We have goats here too. That means you are one of us! Welcome!

Should  I feel guilty every time I order a pizza or go out for Thai?

Should I berate everyone at my local who tries to order a Guinness? No. Because that would make me a massive wanker.

Truth is, I LOVE sharing my culture with people. Why wouldn’t I? I’m Irish, we have the BEST stories. Do I complain about Hollywood ‘appropriation’ of MY heritage and culture? ……sometimes. Mostly because they generally get the pronunciation wrong (it’s Izz-ol-da – just saying….)

Fact is, as an Irish woman my culture and my legends have been raped  for decades – very often by the same folks who tell me I can’t ‘appropriate’ their culture – you know who you are….

As a writer and film maker I used to be REALLY paranoid about causing offence. And then…..well, honestly, one day I just stopped giving a shit.

I realised that no one was respecting my culture.

As a white Irish woman I was expected to obey an ever changing list of rules about what I could and could not do that was considered socially acceptable.

Was it okay to braid my daughters hair for school? Is the scarf I want to wear ‘too Asian’ for work? Was the cut of my heels ‘too Cuban’ or the necklace I was wearing ‘too African’ ?

So I gave up. I can tell you the EXACT moment I stopped giving a shit about ‘cultural appropriation’ – I posted a picture of my nine year old’s hair.

Before I show the pic I want you all to understand that she has hair that would make Rapunzel weep. I’m not kidding when I say her ponytail is as thick as my wrist and about four feet long – so as a parent I struggle to keep it in check.

 

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She has six braids – three on each side.

As a parent I rejoiced because it was keeping her hair in check.

And then I got a tweet.

I won’t post the screenshot, but it was basically along the lines of ‘white bitches be disrespecting’

Let’s put that in perspective shall we?

I’ma  parent, dealing with a, frankly ridiculous, amount of NEVER CUT hair – what do you want me to do? Do you want me to ignore all the videos and advice on how to deal with massively thick and long hair? Do you want me to shun all the products that might make all of our lives easier just because they are ‘not for you’ – (actual quote I received in a taxi) because right now I will take all the help I can get about her hair.

….

Here’s the thing – I GET it.

I do.

I GET how hair and clothes and festivals are important.

I guess i just get how we welcome you with open arms and a cold drink but you still bitch about what we we wear our hair clips.

It’s one world. We have one life. #

It’s not ‘appropriation’ it’s ‘appreciation.’

‘Love others as I have loved you.’

Guys….we have a WHOLE, HUGE, AMAZING world out there to live in – WHY settle?

Go. Live. Love. Enjoy. Experience.

xx

C

 

 

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To Film School and Beyond

So, firstly apologies – I have been a shitty blogger over the last couple of months, but honestly life got in the way . I started a course at film school, and got accepted to Oxford, I made four short films in two months, wrote a play and stressed myself out beyond the point of exhaustion.

BUT here I am.

In better news, I’ve been working my rocks off. Film school is….hard. But fun. I applied at first because I really wanted to learn what happens when the scripts leave my hands and go into production. As a writer my job is done the moment the script is picked up, and as an actress my job was always in front of the camera, so I really wanted to understand what went on behind it.

Turns out the answer is A LOT.

It’s been mind blowing to be honest. And I’m glad I went to film school and not taking ‘film studies’ course where we all sit around and disect . The practical experience is amazing, the flexibility wonderful and the encouragement to get out there and do stuff has led to me breaking out of my comfort zone on more than one occasion.

Since the last time I posted I went on a one night residential with my class where we shot two short films in 24 hours. The speed and energy with which we have to work is inspiring. I’m surrounded by people who are as excited as I am and not one of them want to talk about film theory or ‘what the director meant’

Instead we gang up over lunch and talk about how we can talk our way into filming in restricted locations and how many people it will take to carry a jib and two cameras into a forest.

Today I shot a lot of food and cooking footage. I needed to get a post footage voice over and had no one to help, so my nine year old stepped up and was my sound engineer for the afternoon (and she’s pretty good at it).

I ignored this side of film for so long, and then, when I initially  expressed an interest fifteen years ago I was shot down and made to feel inferior and uneducated because I didn’t ‘understand’ why the director chose to shoot the sky in pink or what the ‘meaning’ was behind…well, pretty much every film ever – I’m ashamed to admit it but there was a period where I spent a lot of time believing that I was the idiot – because that is how that particular group chose to view me. I was the ‘pleb’ (i took science at uni initially) who just ‘DIDN’T UNDERSTAND’ the supposedly apparent ‘genius’ of what ever art house director  was currently in vogue.

As a writer, an actress and director I can tell your opinions mean shit.

C

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Words in the heart cannot be taken

I had a conversation with a friend this week that has sort of stayed with me – haunted me if you will. We’ve all had those moments, when someone says something that just…sticks with you and becomes all you can think about.

We were talking about books.Specifically we were talking about the books that have left an impact on us,. The books we just can’t let go of. The ones that stay with us, guide us. Sometimes without us even realising it.

Eleven years ago, when I stood up in front of my entire college and all their family and friends and delivered the graduation speech, I wonder how many of them knew that I was quoting from Michael Crichton or Terry Pratchett? Probably not many. But that doesn’t make those words any less valid. Or any less important.

There are books that I come back to, over and over and over again. Books that speak to my soul.

There are words that dance in my blood. Words written by strangers that speak to the very heart of me. Words that have become part of who I am.

And that is an amazing thing.

I was overwhelmed by the knowledge that there were people out there in the world who have no idea how they shaped me as a person, how they saved my life, how they changed how I thought and how they made me a better person.

And maybe, just maybe, there is someone out there who has had their life changed by something I have written. There might not be, but there might be.

I’ve been re-reading Discworld from the start. I have the last book but I haven’t read it yet. It’s been sitting on my dresser for a long time. And honestly, I just don’t think I’m ready yet. Because if I read it then I have to admit that it’s over. And I’m just not ready for that yet. It had been a part of my life for over twenty five years – longer even – the Colour of Magic was published the year after I was born. So pretty much all my life there has been this other, wonderful, strange, funny, heartbreaking world that has existed in parallel. I’m not ready to let go of a series, of a writer who changed me in so many ways. A writer I never met who made me a better person, who made me think and feel and love and fight. A writer who taught me that I didn’t need to conform, that I didn’t need to care what other people thought, that I didn’t need to be someone I wasn’t. That personal wasn’t the same as important, that infinity is duck egg blue, that I should be wary of any item that weighs less than it’s operational manual, that I should always look under my bed in case there’s a man there (you never know your luck) and most importantly :

Words in the heart cannot be taken.

Terry Pratchett, Feet of Clay, spoken by Dorfl

And so, go forth, find your own words, those words that will imprint on your heart and soul never to be erased.

they cannot be taken.

Love, always,

C

 

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Balls Deep

seven-sins-of-shakespeare-posterThere are many differences between film and stage. I love both formats. I love the creativity I can express through film, but I love the intimacy that comes with the stage. What I tend to overlook time and time and time again is the one thing that makes me deeply unhappy – rehearsals.

Currently I am in the final stages of rehearsals for Henry IV part 2 as part of the 400 anniversary of Shakespeare season with Bigger Than Us Productions. It’s been an amazing summer, and I’ve had the opportunity to work with some of the most talented people Northern Ireland has to offer – and yes, I am a little bit smug about the fact that I got everyone one of the actors I wanted – all my first choices.

I have a wonderful mix of people – from teenagers on their first performance through to seasoned pros. There is a wonderfully rich mix of people involved – a seventeen year old taking on the very meaty role of Pistol with an energy that frankly sinister, a radio DJ playing Poins with with the best facial expressions I have ever seen, a young Bardolph providing MILES of homoerotic moments, a stand up comedian playing Francis with a cheek and presence that far surpasses her years, a stately Hal played by the most regal young gent I have ever come across (even if he is a bad influence) and my Holy Trinity – my Doll, my Mistress Quickly and my beloved Falstaff – the sharp Mistress, the young Doll and the wonderful Falstaff who holds them all in the palm of his hand.

Last night we had a wonderful blocking session and it’s easy to see how it’s all come together now. I certainly feel a lot less stressed and worried than I did a few weeks ago, and once again I was reassured watching my wonderful, wonderful cast work together in harmony. I don’t think I’ve ever worked with a group of people who acted and reacted so INSTINCTIVELY with each other, who used the space, who weren’t afraid to get physical, who gave it their all.

This is a far cry from the adaptations of the past – it’s Henry IV set in ‘organised’ Belfast. It’s sinister, it’s threatening, but it’s also fucking hilarious – because if anyone knows how to make fun of themselves, the Northern Irish do. It’s threats and violence and lust and greed and gluttony and sex and a dick joke every other line and everyone works in ‘construction’.

So, with two weeks to go I’m both terrified and excited.

My parents are coming to see it too – my mum came to see a performance of a play I wrote earlier this summer and it seemed to be a bit of an eye opener for her – I think she finally realises that when I’m sat behind my laptop for hours on end I’m not playing Candy Crush.

So this is it, the final countdown.

It will be awesome.

Love, etc,

C

 

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Shakespeare and Opportunities

Okay, so i know I haven’t updated a lot lately, but honestly, things have been INSANE.

As many of you know personal issues caused me to step out of the industry for a long time. Simply put, Northern Ireland is a small place, and the arts in Northern Ireland is even smaller, so you run into the same people over and over. And there were people I just couldn’t be in the same room as. And it made me profoundly unhappy until one day I just cracked, threw my hands in the air and cried ‘Fuck it!’

I haven’t looked back.

Since I decided to return to the arts I have been very fortunate and surprised and inundated with thing to do. I had a play I wrote produced and performed, I’m currently directing Henry IV as part of the 400 anniversary of Shakespeare as part of Bigger Than Us ‘Seven Sins of Shakespeare’ and I have both a low budget feature and a play I wrote in the early stages of production.

On top of that I am also now on the editorial board for the Community Arts Partnership  and have enrolled on several courses, including creative writing at Oxford and film school.

It’s been….busy.

Right now there is so much going on, so many opportunities and I am grabbing them with both hands.

No one and nothing is ever going to tell me I’m not good enough, or that I don’t work hard enough, or that I don’t deserve it ever again. I listened to that for years to the point where I believed it myself, and while I know now that it was that person’s own failures and insecurities and inadequacy that was fuelling their words and behaviour, it was my fault that I listened to them. That I LET them influence me, hold me back. But no more.

So if I can tell you guys anything, I’ll tell you this – you can do anything you want. Be anything you want. And fuck what anyone else says.

Love, encouragement, hugs and nudges in the right direction,

C

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FANDOM!!!!!!!!!!!!

cuffs2cuffs1

Okay, so I’m a bit (understatement) excited! On Ao3 I got a comment from another user who had commissioned some fan art for my work!

YEAH!! HOW FUCKING AWESOME IS THAT?

This morning I woke up and in my inbox was lovely, lovely email from the poster in question, the sweet Lydia, and aside from her wonderful email, she also included not one, but TWO pics done by the amazing tiniestjohn.

I’m actually beyond overwhelmed right now.

But I just wanted to say thank you, thank you so, so much, and Lydia, readers like you are the reason we do this.

AO3 is a wonderful place where we can express ourselves, celebrate ourselves and our fandoms and never, ever be judged for it. It’s be a sanctuary when I needed it, and a source of inspiration and has led me to reading work from some try wonderful and amazing writers, and meeting people I adore. AO3 truly is my spiritual home, and I think any one of the folks there would say the same.

So thank you, thank you to everyone who reads my fic or my original work, thank you to everyone I follow who’s updates are much anticipated, and thank you to everyone who has ever uttered a word of support or encouragement. It means everything. Honestly.

I love you all.

C

 

 

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